Sunday 7 December 2014

Rashaville: rural tourism, an immersion in country life in Serbia

After my concert in Belgrade, Serbia, I had the immense fortune of meeting Russ Stanoylovic, a larger-than-life character who now runs a rustic ranch and hotel outside Belgrade with his amicable Chinese wife. Through my agent, Srdjan Stojanovic, who is no less a legendary character in the Serbian music circle, I was arranged a visit to Russ' ranch, affectionately called Rashaville.  

Some 60km outside Belgrade, or about an hour of scenic drive, a large banner spans across the country road
announcing our arrival.  The ranch and guesthouses are split on both sides of the road, with the barn and ranch on one side, and the houses, gardens, library and restaurant on another.  

A small wooden hut stood sentry at the entrance of the ranch, which was a replica of the house Russ' grandparents once lived.  Inside the ranch, there were horses and goats, ponies and donkies; there was even a children's theatre, for the amusement of adults (and animals).  Next to the stable is an apartment for guests.  I was told that the owner had done all the landscaping himself!

Russ is a collector of every curios and relics, and I was led to his library which houses his treasure chest.  The restaurant room was a cozy dining cottage, where we were served delightful local dishes prepared fresh from the kitchen next door. The Misses took notice of a Chinese visitor and immediately wrapped up some Chinese dumplings, which went down very well with the local white wine.  

The lunch lasted as long as the afternoon.  The musicians, who sang me a repertoire of Serbian country and popular tunes, serenaded me all the way to the door.  I would have loved to stay here for a few days if not for having to catch a flight.  

Rural or agricultural tourism has taken on a new vibe these years.  Many travellers now look for ways to escape the throes of city living and yearn for the simplicity and fragrance of rural landscape.  Rashaville allows the visitors a nostalgic experience into this rural life of the past.  Set in endless acres of natural landscape, Rashaville organizes excursions and activities in and outside the ranch, while the guesthouses provide warm and cozy environment for a perfect getaway from city hustles.  Call ahead for booking and directions.  

Visit official homepage at (in English) for more information.  

Official video

Want to know what Serbian sounds like?  Here's an interview with Russ on Serbian TV.

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